It may have felt as if history was repeating itself with another nationwide lockdown.

But many older people had a freedom this year they did not have before.

Age Concern Otago’s Waitaki co-ordinator Caitriona Prunty said this year’s lockdown was very different from the last one, and that was thanks to the Covid-19 vaccine.

Last year, people aged over 70 were told to stay home during lockdown and Age Concern had a “major operation” to undertake, Ms Prunty said.

From helping people with grocery shopping to regular phone checks and a social distancing visitor programme, the service had its hands full.

This was not the case this year.

“We have volunteers calling a small number of people to chat, but no requests for help with groceries at this point.”

This year’s lockdown had been smooth sailing for Observatory Village, manager Moira Kliegl said.

When lockdown was announced, the village quickly swung into action and staff and residents were made aware of the protocols, Ms Kliegl said

Under Alert Levels 3 and 4, visitors were not allowed to enter the village, but exceptions were made for those people with loved ones in end-of-life care. Villa and apartment residents were also unable to enter the main building, and staff were screened and temperature-checked upon arriving at work.

The main difference between last year’s lockdown and this year’s was the importance of wearing a mask, she said.

“Everyone’s following protocol, no-one is trying to buck the system,” Ms Kliegl said.

level of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.”

The lockdown did not stop residents from looking after one another.

Ms Kliegl was very impressed to hear that one of the village’s apartment residents had organised grocery orders for eight other residents.